By Julia Luscher, Vice President Marketing, Tetra Pak - Americas
When it comes to innovating, each company defines its rules. The process doesn't have to be a disruptive, enterprise wide phenomenon. Small steps can lead to big results, and nowhere is this impact more effective and far-reaching than with food and beverage products.
With What They Already Have Innovation doesn't require a brand to start over, create a completely new product or go in an entirely different direction. Incremental innovation works when the brand takes what's already there and evolves the formula, concept or messaging to appeal to consumers differently.
Innovation pushes outside of the brand's comfort zone to challenge existing assumptions about the business, products and customers. Establishing a baseline or current state is necessary because it provides the foundation from which to innovate.
So how exactly does a brand do this?
Many brands start with an ideation session, whereby the key stakeholders meet to look at the existing business platform and customer profile to identify new areas of opportunities. Ideation sessions are akin to brainstorms, whereby all ideas, thoughts and questions are discussed.
Exciting business-building initiatives are often the byproduct of these sessions, laying the groundwork for innovation.
Take juice as a theoretical example. In some markets, consumers are moving away from juice in favor of other beverages. This reality tells us that for a juice brand to remain relevant, it needs to explore the possibility of new consumption occasions. So what does that look like? And how can a brand get consumers to think of juice as a smart choice for refreshment any time of day?
This is where incremental innovation comes into play.
Instead of creating a new product from scratch, what if the brand added something to the product? The addition of caffeine can reposition the drink from a breakfast accompaniment to an afternoon pick-me-up. Adding chamomile or CBD oil repositions the juice as a solution to facilitate relaxation and calm at the end of the day.
Thinking about ways to expand or improve a product doesn't mean innovation has to be a revolution. Rather, it's an evolution made possible by smaller steps.
By leveraging its established technology and expertise, Rolls-Royce was able to penetrate a new market category. Today the brand designs, manufactures and distributes power systems for the aviation industry, and this high-flying B2B strategy revved up global sales.
Lego is another company that dared to change. Once synonymous with building blocks for young boys, market share imploded as video games and digital content captured the attention span of its key demographic. Lego responded by innovating its mainstay product, Legos, into a new version called Lego Friends, which was designed to appeal to young girls.
With Lego Friends, the idea that only boys built things with Legos became obsolete, and a new customer segment helped to bolster sales.
While not every brand has a global reach like Rolls-Royce or Lego, scope doesn't matter. Any food and beverage brand can leverage innovation to create a new category or expand the marketing success of an existing product.
Costa Rica–based Dos Pinos, a farmer cooperative with a portfolio of 600+ products, needed to build excitement for the 2019 launch of a new product called Leche 50% + Protein, also known as 50-plus. The product was geared to a new consumer segment: active, wellness-focused adults.
To introduce and market the product, Dos Pinos printed a unique code on each liter carton that, when accessed via app, delivered robust information about training, exercising and wellness from respected expert sources.
The audience was pumped about the strategy because the B2C campaign promoted brand engagement in a new way that complemented the audience's lifestyle. And this innovative approach paid off for Dos Pinos. While the target was 4,000 app downloads, the marketing campaign was much more successful with 8,000 downloads — and a sales volume of 73% more than projected.
Another food and beverage brand leveraging incremental innovation with packaging is Tial, a popular Brazil-based company featuring ready-made drinks.
Last year, Tial refreshed its visual identity with a revamped packaging design featuring bolder colors and a new "Tasty and True" tagline, which more directly communicates that its products are free of preservatives and artificial ingredients. The brand also modernized its logo by adding a new colorful icon.
The packaging refresh was the type of incremental innovation Tial needed to show customers the brand was relevant and evolved, and was listening to the health and wellness needs of its customers.
Any brand can leverage incremental innovation to pivot, expand or reinvent. From luxury automakers to specialty beverage brands, innovation can be the catalyst for positive change. By thinking about innovation in small steps, the process becomes more attainable — and so does success.
Learn more about how Tetra Pak's Product Development Centers help brands innovate.